Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pete's Pets dinos stay put

The dinosaurs are staying. They are not up for adoption, for auction or for sale. Since closing Pete's Pets on Cerrillos Road in 2008, longtime owner Pete Sanders says he has received more than 100 phone calls from people interested in buying the two plastic sculptures of Tyrannosaurus rex on top of the building, which was recently purchased by the city for a homeless shelter.

Getting rid of the 70-pound displays was not negotiable, Sanders said, because they are simply part of the building. "They've been modified. The tails have been cut off and they've got holes in them to set them in place," Sanders said. "And they seem pretty comfortable up there."Plus, the approximately 8-foot-tall figures were always treated with special care, he said. Lois Owens, a Santa Fe resident, is one of those coveting a T. rex.

"I have always loved dinosaurs. It's like I'm 7 instead of 57," Owens said via e-mail. "The possibility of a large dinosaur for the yard would be the ultimate!"

The Santa Fe Children's Museum also inquired about them, said Terri Rodriguez, city of Santa Fe Youth and Family Services Division director. Since the city plans on keeping them, the museum got a pond and pump that was in the building instead, she said.

The Rev. Ken Semon, rector of the Church of the Holy Faith and chairman of the Interfaith Community Shelter Group that operates the homeless shelter, said the dinosaurs serve as a landmark for those who ride the public bus there.

"We tell people we are at the sign of the dinosaurs," he said. Vahid Mojarrab, lead architect for the building's renovation in April, said that no exterior alterations will be made and that he plans to leave the dinos exactly where they are. Knowing that makes Sanders happy, especially because both tyrannosaurids have a long history. One came from Los Angeles more than 15 years ago and sat outside Pete's Pets in Santa Fe.

A second lived on the roof of Sanders' Los Alamos store. He and other businesses were constantly in trouble with the city, which prohibited rooftop advertising. In 1999, someone decapitated T. rex and made off with his head. Even though someone in the community offered a $1,000 reward for its return, it never turned up.

Sanders ended up buying a replacement in 2000; when he closed the Los Alamos store in 2004, he moved the figure to Santa Fe. "We dragged them in and out of the store. We called it dino dancing," Sanders said.

Eventually they were moved to the roof and drew lots of attention. "People stopped by to take pictures of them," Sanders said. "We decorated them for Christmas; they had Easter baskets for Easter. We always treated them as if they had a personality."


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